Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Phoenix 2014 - Warmth, Baseball, Booze and Superman

The warm sun beat down on me, a sensation I had not experienced for several months. I was attempting to garner enough sunshine to see me through the last cold. cruel weeks awaiting me when I returned home without developing the shade of a boiled lobster. A tiny finch with a yellow head kept me company for a short while, hopping and fluttering among the cactus that inhabit my host's back yard. Baseball's spring training was in full swing evidenced by the number of small jets flying overhead, my own packed flight to Phoenix and conversations overheard, not only on the plane but also in bars and restaurants around town.

We have developed a Friday tradition of Happy Hour drinks at a particular bar in town followed by dinner to soak up the alcoholic beverages before reindulging latter. The place always seems busy at this hour. A large portion of the "action" seems to occur on the patio area, the only place where smoking is permitted. We people watch, one of my favorite activities, particularly in less familiar enviorments. A shirtless, so young as to be almost dewy, man is vending jello shots for a charity. A large, powerful, somewhat rough looking man, complete with shaved bald head and a nose ring sits nearby. From the number of men clustered around him he seems a very popular fellow. Though due to his extreme size he would be difficult to ignore. Saying "Oh, I didn't see you there" would sound implausible as an excuse for not saying hello to him. One of my hosts gets a text on Scruff from someone 124 feet away. We chatter, imbibe and generally while the evening away before retiring.

Saturday morning arrives where after hitting the local Einsteins for coffee and bagels we hit the gym. L..A. Fitness has signs in all their locations warning of the dangers of steroid use. To some, it appears, these warnings fall on deaf ears. In Chicago the back acne, a tell tell sign of the use of the muscle building substance is seen primarily, at least in my experience, on Latino men. Here young white men seem to be the major abusers. Perhaps it is the feeling of invincibility among the young that leads them down this ultimately unhealthy path. Aside from the damage to the liver and heart, there is the coarsening of the facial features resulting from the practice. Unlike the damage to the lungs caused by cigarette smoking, none of the problems disappear even if steroid use is stopped. There are several men I have known who look far older than their years, their almost ogre like appearance a result of steroid use in their youth. The final irony I find in this is that by and large, the development on many of these people is not so impressive that it could not be achieved by natural means. The drugs become a substitute for patience and dedication.

Once again I indulged in people watching. In particular the extremely short, rather cute man whose thick chest and wide back muscles narrowed down to an almost impossibly tiny waist, an indication of a small bone structure appropriate for a person of his diminutive stature. He wore a skin tight Under Armour tee shirt emblazoned with the Superman "S" symbol. His taller, older workout partner wore an identical tee shirt, albeit in a different color, somewhat less successfully. Superman tee shirts, tattoos, etc., to my mind, need to be used with discretion. They are best worn by those who, at least in part, resemble the superhero. I will give a pass to geeks who array themselves thus enroute to  Comicon. On Sunday's visit to the gym the same rather lilliputian fellow was just finishing his workout as we arrived, again wearing a Under Armour Superman tee shirt, however in a different color, making me ponder how many of them he owns. Maybe he got lucky once and hit a BOGO sale.

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